Play It Again, Glenn

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The other day, I listened to Glenn Gould record the Goldberg Variations.
Not play them—that’s easy enough with three recordings available—but record. Sony Classical has released a new multiple CD set that is the entirety of Gould’s 1955 Goldberg’s session: Glenn Gould—The Goldberg Variations—Complete Unreleased Recording Sesssions June, 1955.

The master release, again, is easy enough to either own or stream. This was Gould’s debut on the major commercial stage; at the time he was a prodigious young talent who was much talked about by critics but had yet to be exposed to the type of mass audience that Columbia had at hand. And an artist could not dream of a better debut—this began his notoriety, which made him a subject of public fascination even before he left the concert stage and began side projects like his documentaries for Canadian radio.Detested or beloved, the album launched his career.

Sixty years later, it’s still an astonishing recording that remains outstanding in the discography of the piece (it stands out from his 1981 recording, itself unique in the discography but for different reasons). The tempos seem ridiculous—the overall duration is 38 minutes, as opposed to a common one of an hour or more—and I still find myself laughing in disbelief when I listen, but they are neither frenetic or senseless. Gould’s playing is always under control, always clear—it is his ability to parse each contrapuntal voice and play them all clearly that separated him from every other pianist in the 20th century—and always has the foundational certainty of purpose that comes from thinking through every variation and passage.

And now you can hear him put it all together. Five of the seven CDs are the recording session (spanning June 10-16), which began with the Aria and proceeded in sequence through every variation. What you hear is very different than the usual collection of complete studio takes; though there are moments when Gould starts again after playing a bar or two, there is nothing like the false starts, incomplete takes, and exploratory versions you hear on complete sessions from Charlie Parker or Bob Dylan. What predominates is Gould playing a variation, then playing it several more times, before moving on to the next.

While that probably seems dry and tedious as hell, it’s the opposite; it’s immersive and often exhilarating. What the session tapes do is amplify the pleasures of the original recording. If you put on the album and marvel at the beauty of the Aria and the thrill of the variations, then you will marvel over and over again at each. It not only is never dull, but it has the effect, just like the Miles Davis Bootleg series release of the entire Miles Smiles recording session, of making the the finished recording that much more exciting, wonderful, and satisfying. The process at these sessions was Gould playing each Variation until his hand realized exactly what was in his head. This is thinking made into sound. And while it’s a given that the Goldbergs are one of the real masterpieces of classical music, hearing each variation multiple times reinforces Bach’s genius as much as it does Gould’s.

Despite the overall duration of around five hours, this set is lean as a whippet—there is very little studio chatter, almost all of it is calling out the takes and Gould asking to hear a playback. The one extended section of discussion is itself a joy to hear; Gould explaining the origins of the Qoudlibet and then playing his own. He relates how it came to him in the bathtub, harmonizing the Star-Spangled Banner and God Save the King together. Better put, though, is that there is nothing superfluous here, instead there is what I find in the takes of Variation 26: Gould plays it twice at an amazing tempo, then starting with the third take, he plays it…faster!

Gould pissed of a lot of people with this album, and continues to be a troublesome figure to those who try and hoard the past for themselves. And Gould is troublesome, in the best sense. There is nothing shallow or show off-ish about his tempos. He could play fast because he could think fast, and he could think fast because Bach holds together at the speed, and becomes something else, something real, unusual, meaningful, and 100% Bach. That is what Gould gave us.

Beyond what this set is, there’s the question of it’s worth—it’s $90. The package is substantial, and not just because it weighs close to nine pounds. Along with complete sessions, there is a CD of conversation between Gould and Tim Page from the 1981 session, and both a CD and LP of the final 1955 album. There is also a nice poster and a hardcover coffee-table style book covering the session that’s full of pictures of Gould, many of them showing him with a young man’s unselfconscious joy in the music—he’s dancing—and for the nerds like me that are excellent pictures of the hallowed 30th Street Columbia recording studio.

Is it perfect? In my copy, it’s difficult to keep CD 5 secure in it’s spot. Is it worth it? That question can only be answered by those who can spare the money, obviously. My answer, since I find myself listening to the session more than I listen to the album, is an unqualified “yes.” This is not just Gould’s Goldberg Variations album, it’s something different, and something more—it’s art being made and preserved.

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The Virtuoso of Joy

And think Jaco Pastorius. Jaco was an astonishing, jaw-dropping player, the kind of musician who has you at first not quite believing that the things he is doing can actually be done.

Jaco Pastorius: Truth, Liberty & Soul

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“Virtuoso” is used promiscuously, without much thought for the actual thing it is describing.

Here’s an example: Lang Lang is considered a virtuosic pianist. He plays at fast tempos and does so with a lot of demonstrative physical flourishes. He also has terrible technique, constantly fudging passages and in the times I’ve seen him unable to maintain a consistent pulse or tempo. I’ve also never heard any ideas from him, so his ability to play the piano and think about music are both questionable to me. There’s nothing I see in him that’s virtuosic, other than perhaps public presentation.

Then there are musicians like Oscar Peterson, or Jascha Heifetz, or Al Di Meola, who can play the hell out of their instrument but, to my ear and heart, do nothing more than spin out polished notes—they have nothing to say. Admiring their technique only goes so far.

Virtuosos to me are musicians who have technique that supports thinking, and the insight and depth of their thinking is so grand that it needs astonishing technique to speak. Think beyond mere dexterity to phrasing, the clear articulation of complex music, the expressive use of timbre. Think Glenn Gould, Django Reinhardt, Anne Sophie-Mutter.

And think Jaco Pastorius. Jaco was an astonishing, jaw-dropping player, the kind of musician who has you at first not quite believing that the things he is doing can actually be done. That thought is immediately swept away by the utter wonder of his music making, the grand pleasure. With Jaco, that was an enveloping universe of funk, soul, jazz, beauty, and, above all else, joy.

Jaco still elicits vituperation (check a couple of the comments on this post from 2010), which mystifies me. I press my sympathetic imagination, and I just can’t find any thinking that would reject the sheer social pleasure of his playing. You have to have a hardness in your heart to sneer at the gifts Jaco offered.

Yes, there are purists of all types, who are ideologically against things like electric instruments, rock beats in jazz, what they see as the mongrelization of styles (which is pretty damn ignorant in a mongrel culture like ours), or even that, under Jaco’s hands, the bass was a lead instrument.

He played the bass as a lead instrument because that was his personality, and you don’t need to have known him to see that in his playing—that spirit that came through every note was irrepressible and full of a particular and worthwhile purity, the pure joy of making music for others. Live or on record, Jaco’s primary expression was something like: “playing music for you is the greatest thing in the world, man.”

Underneath was Jaco’s imagination, which was capacious, articulate, and disciplined. His self-titled debut album, which is still great, starts famously with him playing “Donna Lee” on the bass (that set a lot of musicians on their ears), and then immediately segues into the tight funk of “Come On, Come Over,” with Sam & Dave. The jazz police charged him with a felony, I think it’s fabulous and it hits the body so hard that one would have to consciously wall off and reject a sense of fun.

Debut albums in jazz are generally made to show the listener what the musician can do, and Jaco is no exception. Although it is in the sense that what Jaco could do was both unfettered by convention and tightly focussed on a seamless blend of American vernacular music. Jaco came out as a jazz musician, but he was fundamentally just an American musician—he came up professionally playing soul, funk, rock, and R&B along with jazz, the last one of the range of American vernacular musics. And playing professionally before he became a star, he was a superb ensemble player.

Listen to him that way, from “Donna Lee” to “Come On, Come Over” to “Third Stone From the Sun.” Listen past his playing, if you can, to his composing and arranging, which were tremendous, from the abstract riffs of “Teen Town” to the gorgeous, formally sophisticated “Three Views of a Secret,” to the charts for his exceptional Word of Mouth big band, and then to the deep, open-ended beauty of his essential Word of Mouth album. And of course, “Portrait of Tracy,” not just a showpiece for what Jaco could do with the bass, but a haunting and lovely piece of music. It was, as Charlie Parker said to Symphony Sid, “all just music.”

He was a masterful musician in the old sense (before industrialization, the rise of the bourgeoisie, and academic/professional specialization) of the composer-musician, creating in every aspect of his practice. Everything he did was deeply musical. As he told Guitar World magazine, “I have never tried to play fast in my life.” You can hear this: even churning out funky 16th-note bass lines, everything is both clearly articulated and musically meaningful, even the briefest note has a thought and a purpose behind it. Few musicians can claim that.

This new archival release continues the joy and spirit of Jaco’s music making. It comes in the typical beautiful package from Resonance, and is the usual labor of love and devotion from producer Zev Feldman. It adds on to the somewhat confusing discographical legacy of the WOM band: Invitation is a distillation of a Japan-released two CD set, Twins I & II, while The Birthday Concert is a separate gig from December, 1981. If your budget dictates only one of these recordings, make it Invitation, which is tight, punchy, and a great representation of this period. Ideally, you want to have the Twins and then add this live concert from the old Avery Fisher Hall in 1982. The recording is clean and rich, though oddly the sound quality seems to mellow the mood. Not that this is a bad thing, but the WOM band had a jauntiness that flowed from Jaco—hearing less of that is a bittersweet reminder of how tragic his life turned out to be, and why his loss still feels so raw for those who appreciate joy.



UPDATED: Fixed Spotify embed

2016 Classical Releases—The Last Word

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In the course of a year, I listen to more jazz on record and hear more classical music in the concert hall. That’s a matter of circumstances; I would prefer that were reversed, but there are few opportunities for me to write about live jazz, and jazz venues are generally unwelcoming to the those without prestige credentials.. The New York Classical Review, or the other hand, gives me the opportunity to cover classical music performances, and before I started writing there, classical music venues were always been open to me as an independent critic.

This is the context for my relationship with recordings. While I’d prefer to get more of my jazz live, recordings are necessary to hear new musicians, and hear what players who aren’t getting gigs are doing.

For classical music, recordings can be puzzling. For new music, recordings are a logical and necessary means to document expansion of the tradition—likewise recordings of obscure but worthwhile music (there is still a lot of stuff like that from the Renaissance and Baroque eras). But for the standard repertoire, it’s often unclear why recordings are made. Do we need more recordings of the Beethoven symphonies, more Chopin Preludes, more Vivaldi Concertos? No, we do it. But we get them anyway.

This is the staple of the last vestiges of the big record labels, like Deutsche Gramophone sign a new a star performer and put them through the cycle of recording all the appropriate standard works. It makes sense for unique talents like Daniil Trifonov, who has many new ideas about older pieces. It makes less sense for even spectacular talents like Yuja Wang, who gives music unbelievable life in concert, but is it not rethinking anything. For solid but unsurprising musicians like Yannick Nézet-Séquin, it makes no sense.

This is because classical music, despite common perceptions, is a living art. Like plays from the past, the art needs to be performed and experienced in the moment. The sense of occasion, community, and time in the concert hall is entirely different than in the living room, and music is also made an entirely different way in the recording studio. Nézet-Séquin, at his best, leads performances that are exemplary renditions of what’s on the page. At his best, this makes for another fine recording. but the classical music discography general is clogged with fine recordings, and reissues are the best recordings from the past are plentiful and cheap.

So again, why make these, and why listen to them? Because Trifonov appears to be a musician of historical greatness, and it is exciting to witness him discovering his own thoughts about the tradition. Same is true for Murray Perahia’s CD of Bach’s French Suites-not only is his playing superb but his thinking is fresh (this recording was made for Sony as part of Perahia’s exploration of Bach, but the label dropped him without release it, and DG picked it up).

But even with exciting musicians like Trifonov and Igor Levitt, most of what comes from the big labels is exactly what you expect: more Brahms, more collections of arias, more cross-overs. Classical music is where the independent labels are more interesting, and more important, than in any other genre. Here are my continuing favorites with their best releases from 2016 and early 2017.

Harmonia Mundi is the home for some of the finest musicians in classical music and well-chosen repertory. This is where you’ll find recordings of Monteverdi’s and Mozart’s operas and Bach’s Passions, led by René Jacobs, that are among the finest and most important ever made and that should be part of your music library. The label is also where you’ll hear the fresh intelligence of musicians like fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, violinist Isabelle Faust, pianist Alexander Melnikov, baritone Matthias Goerne, harpsichordist Richard Egarr, the Jerusalem String Quartet, and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. They put out a substantial number of period performance practice recordings, and also the beautiful contemporary choral music of Craig Hella Johnson. Here are some of the finest recent releases:

Bridge, founded by guitarist David Starobin, maintains a catalogue of under-represented common practice period composers, and specialized in comprehensive series from modern and contemporary composers. The most important of these is their recordings of music by Stefan Wolpe. Wolpe’s music comes out of early 20th century European modernism, but is really unclassifiable. He could write atonally, he could use popular music, theatrical elements, pretty much anything. His work is imaginative, expressive, made with refined, strong structures, and full of surprises. He was one of the finest composers of the 20th century, and had an important influence as a teacher once he emigrated to America. Other recommended series and 2016 releases:

ECM, while not originally a classical label, has now pioneered a new music style that is predominantly tonal, and mixes pre-baroque, minimalism, and improvisation, either as a collection or as a synthesis. And through contemporary composers like Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, and Arvo Pärt, they’ve used their New Series to explore both modern and common practice period repertory. While the results have been inconsistent—there’s some recordings of 19th and early 20th century music that are surprisingly poor, while Andras Schiff’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas cycle is full of fascinating thinking and draws one back again and again, and Gidon Kremer’s two collections of music by Mieczyslaw Weinberg have made an extraordinarily strong case for the composer—the label has completely filled the classical music niche that Nonesuch used to fill, and continues to expand in both the standard repertory and such extra-classical composed music as by Anouar Brahem and Tigran Mansurayn.

Winter & Winter is an addendum, but worth noting. Their classical releases are few but extremely well-chosen. They’ve produced interesting, but non-essential, recordings of modern and avant-garde music played by accordionist Teodoro Anzelotti, but of late have become the home for two major artists, Barbara Hannigan and Hans Abrahamsen. Their two Abrahamsen releases, Schnee and let me tell you, and Hannigan’s recording of Satie’s Socrate are must-haves.

Best Reanimations 2016

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The depth and range of 2016 reissues and archival releases was not as great as previous that of previous, years (especially 2015), but there were a small handful of such releases this year that were of rare quality and importance.

The most notable was Decca’s release of their Mozart 225 complete edition of his works. I’ve gone into more detail on this release here, and the short version is that this is the greatest collection of some of the greatest music in human civilization. The choice of performances is superior throughout, and if there is an emphasis on the new thinking that has come out of the Period Performance Practice movement, there is also a generous selection of wonderful performances that are historically important due to their sheer, exalted, quality. Round that out with fragments, works with unclear provenance, a good, short, hard-bound biography, and a new Köchel catalog, and this is a cornerstone collection for a serious classical music lover. But yes, it is expensive, and even with that cost it’s not perfect—my copy has a misprint in the booklet for opera and theater music. At this price, that type of quality control error should not happen, and it’s unclear to me if Decca will replace it, they don’t seem to have anything in the way of customer service.

(Note: Amazon price as of this posting, $340, is the best I’ve seen since it was released, and very close to the best pre-order price that had been available)

(Billboard reports that this is a surprise best-seller, moving more CDs than anything else released this year. This is misleading because they are multiplying the number of boxes sold—6,000 or so out of a total of 13,000 in this limited edition—by the 200 CDs contained within.)

For those sensitive to their budgets, there are still some amazing releases out within a wide price range. My favorites are:

Classical

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There were some good Bruckner boxes out this year too, but I’ll be writing about them in January.

Jazz

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  • Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: Bootleg Series Vol. 5. On the surface this might seem to be only for the specialists—the complete tape from the session that produce the great Miles Smiles album. But that means you are there while arguably the greatest ensemble in jazz history puts together a classic recording on the fly. An indispensable look into jazz as process, full of invaluable insights into what made Miles such an unsurpassed band leader. It’s tremendously exciting and makes the original album sound even better.
  • The Complete Savoy Be-Bop Sessions, 1945–49. Savoy is best known as Charlie Parker’s label. But these 10 CDs from the vaults have everything else on the label from that period, vintage early bebop excursions from Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson, Stan Getz, and many more. One marvelous track after another, complete with alternate takes and the typical excellent documentation from Mosaic.
  • Sun Ra, The Singles Volume 1. Sun Ra’s singles are more than just fodder for condescending hipster lifestyles, they are a Rosetta Stone that decodes American popular music. If you don’t already have the original Evidence collection, absolutely get this. And if you do have it, this new set from Strut has plenty of additional tracks recently unearthed.
  • UPDATED (Can’t believe I forgot this): Peter Erskine Trio: As It Was. This is a 4 CD collection from ECM, everything that this trio produced. Taken together, this series of albums from the 1990s make for a pinnacle of modern piano trio jazz, and the late English pianist John Taylor is simply outstanding on every track.
  • Arthur Blythe: In the Tradition/Lenox Avenue Breakdown/Illusions/Blythe Spirit. Four albums on two CDs, for $20. Lenox and Illusions are two of the greatest albums of the post-fusion era, testaments to the beautifully creative and vital music made on the Loft Jazz scene.
  • Searching for You: The Lost Singles of McVouty (1958–1974). On Resonance, Zev Feldman produced two important archival releases this year, covering Larry Young and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. He had his hand in this one too, and there’s little this year I enjoyed as much.

Everything Else

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  • Harry Bertoia: Complete Sonambient Collection. A marvelous box from Important Records. This beautifully remasters and documents the records sculptor Bertoia made playing his Sonambient sound sculptures. Hours of rich, mysterious, beautiful, and immersive sounds.
  • Machine Gun: Jimi Hendrix: The Filmore East First Show 12/31/1969. The complete first set of Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys. An amazing performance and unintended culmination of Jimi’s musical world: blues, soul, funk, and rock.
  • Led Zepellin, Complete BBC Sessions. While it might be hard to imagine you would want to hear five different performances of “Communications Breakdown” in the same collection, the playing here is so exciting and powerful that you will enjoy every one. Some spectacular moments in Zepellin’s history.
  • Hey Colossus: Dedicated to Uri Klanger. A compilation of fairly recent music that had limited release previously, this should serve as an ideal introduction to this noise band. Their sound is heavy and warm and completely exhilarating. Not a dull moment to be heard.

2016 Notes and Tones

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After listening to what is now close to 500 recordings with a 2016 release date, I feel like I’ve discovered some themes. Some of this is the elusive zeitgeist, what is on the minds of musical artists; some is longer term trends having to do with technology and pop culture; some may just be coincidence. But all were noticeable and satisfied my arbitrary criteria for a sample size.

Jeff Parker

Nothing sub rosa here, Parker has been around for a while and has been one of most interesting guitarists on the scene, creating his own niche in between jazz, rock, neo-soul, and improvised music. He’s living testament that there’s no real line between the popular and the avant-garde in African-American music, it’s all on a spectrum, and a pretty compact one at that.

His album The New Breed (International Anthem) made the most noise this year, and it is solid. I don’t love it though; the intentionally fragmented nature, while interesting, doesn’t really satisfy—the record wants to be both experimental and neatly controlled, and those are contradictory goals.

But there are two other recordings to his credit that are fine. One is a seemingly modest but actually deep solo record, Slight Freedom (Eremite), which has Parker exploring his own fascinating art. The other is drummer Matt Mayhall’s Tropes (Skirl), a tight, strong debut based around the trio of Mayhall, bassist Paul Bryan, and Parker (with various guests). Parker’s contributions are integral to the success of the disc, which is the best jazz debut of the year, and my regrets that I did not get this out of the pile for listening until after the deadline for Francis Davis’ Jazz Critics Poll. Both these are strongly recommended and on my extended list for best new releases.

Guitars

There’s been a longer term trend in the proliferation of terrific guitarists—and please don’t think of just jazz. Many of them play jazz, but they are playing in every sort of style and tradition Some are relatively new on the scene, others are established, and they keep putting out one solid record after another (or, like Parker, are important sidemen on other musicians’ records). Here are recordings from guitarists that I enjoyed this year and recommend:

Ask me on a different day, and any and all of these could be on my list of 52.

Singers

First, I want to express some disappointment. As someone with a man-crush on Kurt Elling, his appearance on Branford Marsalis’ Upward Spiral never captured my attention, and I find his Christmas disc hard going. But there were other fine releases from singers that had the balance of artistry and creativity that I seek—I want my singers to be good musicians! Try these, they are all terrific:

Seriously swinging, musical singing from all the above. Everyone should hear Bertault sing “The Peacocks“ in French.

Labels

This was a strong year for Sunnyside records. I have several of their releases in my top 52, and you’ll find a couple of the vocalists there. Other keepers are Andrew Cyrille and Bill McHenry’s duet album, Proximity, Dan Blake’s tough-as-nails The Digging, and two records with a south of the Trump wall flavor, Edward Simon’s Latin American Songbook, and Argentum from Carlos Franzetti.

ECM is by default one of the major labels, but their output this year took nothing for granted and was impressive even by their consistent standards. I do go against some of the consensus favorites, like Michael Formanek’s The Distance, which I found wan, but they had a run of fine records in that typical ECM style that carved out a space between improvisation and contemporary classical control. Along with the release on my best of list:

ECM also had several excellent classical and new music releases, those you will find in a forthcoming post.

52 Pick-Up: Best NewMusic 2016

52 of the best new releases of the year

52 of the best new releases of the year, 52 out of the the 430 (as of this writing) new releases I listened to. Every year I fiddle with how to make and present these lists, and the idea here is obvious; one record to every week. For this I used the criteria of releases that I would gladly listen to, non-stop, for an entire week. That is, music that not only satisfied critical thinking, but that was a complete pleasure in the way it swamped critical thinking and just occupied the pleasure centers of my mind and body. Each note or sound was like a brick in a marvelous structure, and I wanted to hear it being built, piece by piece, over and over again. I could add an “honorable mentions” list with recordings that could move in an out of my 52, depending on mood, but I’ll that for the comments section, if anyone cares to discuss this.

I’ve placed this in rough genres that should be self-explanatory (“Popular” is any music that can be placed in a popular music category, from metal to hip hop; “New Classical” is music in that classical tradition that was both composed in the last generation or two and newly heard on recording). If you compare the Jazz/Blues below to my best jazz post, you’ll see some differences: the previous post was for Francis Davis’ categories, here I’m using mine, and I differentiate between musicians playing jazz and jazz musicians improvising in non-jazz idioms.

(Note that these are unranked because the criteria gives them equal value. Also note that I will have a separate list of for reissues and archival recordings.)

Ambient/Drone

Classical

Electronic

Improvisation

Jazz/Blues

New Classical

Popular Styles

Again, this list could be longer, but without limits I never would have gotten to the end. There are more worthy releases this year that I’ll get to in an upcoming post on notes and trends of 2016. Happy listening.

Best Jazz Releases of 2016

These 2016 jazz releases occupied my mind and body. That’s my highest level of response.

Let me qualify that header before things get out of control here: this not only snapshot of constantly shifting thoughts, but specifically conforms to the ballot Francis Davis sent out for his 11th annual Jazz Critics Poll. Despite NPR losing interest in jazz, they are still going to host the poll, the results of which will be up sometime in December. So I guess that’s something.

Now, one explanation and one major caveat. My experience with these releases—what led me to choose and rank them—is that, among the bevy of fine new jazz recordings I’ve heard this year (at least 200), these are the ones that completely satisfied me without any critical thought. I mean this in the best way; I listened but gave myself over completely to the music, and trusted each and every moment to bring me musically and logically to the next. The music occupied my mind and body. That’s my highest level of response.

The caveat is that the list goes roughly from Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving. I have not been able to listen through everything I’ve gotten so far this year (there’s at least 96 hours of music still unheard) and due to release dates there are certain things that I trust will be important that have not yet reached me, especially Strut Records new compilation of Sun Ra’s singles, and Mosaic’s Classic Savoy Be-Bop Sessions 1945-49. Look for them in my upcoming full year-end lists, or else in the ballot I fill out for Downbeat next spring. And so, I give you:

10 best new releases (albums released between last Thanksgiving and this, give or take) listed in descending order one-through-ten.

1 Kris Davis, Duopoly (Pyroclastic)

 

2 James Brandon Lewis Trio, No Filter (BNS Sessions)

3 Brian Charette, Once & Future (Posi-Tone)

4 Mary Halvorson Octet, Away With You (Firehouse 12)

 

5 Ches Smith, The Bell (ECM) (No official video or streaming audio available)
6 Eric Revis Trio, Crowded Solitudes (Clean Feed)

7 Henry Threadgill, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi Recordings)

 

8 Ross Hammond and Sameer Gupta, Upward (Big Weezus)

 

9 Robin Eubanks Mass Line Big Band, More Than Meets the Ear (Artist Share)

10 Jaimeo Brown Transcendence, Work Songs (Motema)

 

Top-three Reissues or Historical albums, again listed in descending order.

1  Miles Davis Quintet, Freedom Jazz Dance (Sony)

2  Peter Erskine Trio, As it Was (ECM)

3  Arthur Blythe, Lennox Avenue Breakdown/In the Tradition/Bush Baby/Blythe Spirit (BGO Records)

Year’s best Vocal album.

Camila Meza, Traces (Sunnyside)

 

Best Debut album.

I did not hear a debut album this year that left a strong impression on me.

Best Latin jazz album.

Brian Lynch, Madera Latino, (Holistic MusicWorks)